Despite recent arrests made in several robbery cases near Boston University — including Tuesday’s robbery and stabbing of a BU Medical Campus research assistant — local police will continue to have an increased presence, said BU Police Department Chief Thomas Robbins.
Robbins said BUPD and Brookline PD will continue to increase their patrols in the area near West Campus and northern Brookline after a string of eight robberies and one stabbing occurred in the area during the 2012-13 academic year.
“We have proactive patrols and we’ll have additional patrols out there for the foreseeable future,” he said. “We know these robberies are occurring so we want to provide some visibility out there and some additional patrols.”
The robberies and stabbing all occurred on or near the Charles River Campus, particularly near West Campus and South Campus toward Brookline.
On Tuesday, two suspects robbed and stabbed a 38-year-old BUMC research assistant near the corner of Browne Street and Pleasant Street in Brookline. The suspects were arrested later in the week.
Wallace Vick, 19, and Shaqone Cazeau, 20, were arrested Thursday and arraigned Friday in Brookline District Court on charges of armed robbery while masked and armed assault with intent to murder, as previously reported by The Daily Free Press.
“Within 48 hours BPD made the arrest, that’s outstanding work in anyone’s book,” said BU spokesman Colin Riley in a previous interview. “Hopefully this will reassure people walking the street with intent to rob that there are consequences for their behavior.”
On Friday, Brookline Police arrested Tyler Mauritson, a 27-year-old suspect from Quincy, in connection to a Jan. 19 armed robbery near BU, said Brookline Police Lt. Philip Harrington in an email. His accomplice, Evan Holmes, 29, also from Quincy, was arrested Jan. 24 for the same crime.
The two allegedly robbed three victims while brandishing gun, one of which was a BU student.
“The message to the robbers is clear: this is not the place to come to commit those types of offenses,” Robbins said.
Robbins said increased police patrols will create more police visibility to dissuade potential criminals and create a stronger sense of safety, despite the recent arrests.
“We’ll still patrol the entire BU community, but we’ll have the additional attention focused on the West Campus and northern Brookline areas because what we’re seeing in the statistics is that the suspects are targeting that area,” Robbins said.
While BUPD will assist Brookline PD in increasing patrols and make police more visible, primary jurisdiction for crimes off BU’s campus falls to other departments, Robbins said.
“We do have authority, statutory authority to patrol out there, but that’s not our primary jurisdiction and that means the responsibility and primary jurisdiction is of the Brookline Police,” he said. “We work with them to augment them and help them and share information, but the primary responsibility for investigation is those departments.”
However, Robbins said it is unrealistic to expect police to constantly cover the entirety of the area.
“I don’t have an officer to put on every corner, that’s not reality,” he said. “ … Nor, quite frankly, do I think the community wants a cop on every corner. We don’t want a police state. We want to make sure our cops are out there providing a sense of visibility and safety, but we don’t want a cop on every corner.”
Robbins said police are examining reasons or factors concerning why the crimes have been concentrated in a small area near BU, including lighting and accessibility of emergency blue phones.
He said it is apparent robbers are targeting pedestrians with small electronic devices, as they can easily be stolen and sold for $100 to $300.
“What we’re seeing unfortunately is a national trend where these iPhones and iPads, they make a lot of money for the crooks,” he said.
BU and police officials have repeatedly encouraged students to take caution when walking to not display or be distracted by valuable electronic devices.
Robbins said police are looking into methods of working with electronic providers such as Apple and Samsung on a national level to render stolen devices useless, thereby eliminating the secondary market for stolen goods and dissuading theft.
“That’s a long-term solution, it doesn’t help in the short term, but for the community knowledge, we are looking at everything we can do to reduce and eliminate these kinds of crimes,” he said.
Robbins said despite the string of high-profile crimes, overall crime at BU is on a downward trend.
“The perception of crime doesn’t match up with the actual reality of crime,” he said. “Crime in and around the BU campus is very low. It’s been spiking down tremendously over the past few years.”
Chris Lisinski contributed to the reporting of this article.